Dr. H

Jill Hoxmeier

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Dear Dr. H.,

If I haven’t had sex in a long time, can that cause any problems when I get back to it?

Dear Student,


Define “long time” and, while we’re at it, define “sex.” The short answer is no, going a while in between partners really won’t have much of a negative impact on you. Nothing happens to your vagina or penis when it hasn’t been used with a partner for extended periods of time. But, of course, there is always a long answer. If you haven’t had much romantic or sexual contact in general for a while, you might just simply feel out of practice in terms of communicating wants and needs to your partner, as well as asking your partner about their likes and dislikes. So, keep that in mind and give yourself grace to perhaps feel a little rusty and take things slow.

Sometimes we think our lack of sexual activity constitutes a “drought,” so I thought I’d toss out some data from the 2015 NCHA survey with CWU students to give some perspective. Of those CWU students who participated in the survey, almost half reported to have had oral sex in the previous 30 days (while almost 30 percent reported to have never had oral sex); 54 percent reported having vaginal sex in the previous 30 days (while 27 percent reported to have never had vaginal sex); and less than 10 percent reported to have anal sex in the previous 30 days (while just over 70 percent reported to have never had anal sex). About half of men and women in the survey reported to have had one sexual partner in the previous 12 months, and about one quarter of students reported having zero partners in the last year.  We have a tendency to overestimate how much sex our peers are having, so sometimes it’s good to check in with the data to see that not everyone is having sex and certainly not everyone is having sex all the time.


Dear Dr. H.,

How long should I wait before replying to a text?


Dear Student,


Why, I’m flattered… asking an old person about text etiquette! First, I threw this question into a Google search because I was curious what the commonly held perception is (knowing I would likely disagree). Much to my dismay – though not surprise – most advice is heavily gendered, giving the impression that all the ladies are just waiting by their phone to get that long-awaited text only to game out a plan to make it appear they’re too busy to respond. I’m going to assume this is in the context of new-to-you-text-relationship-with-hopes-of-an-actual-relationship.

I’m a firm believer in direct communication, so if this is a situation where the text is a method to feel someone out for whether there is romantic or sexual interest, I’d say return the text within a couple of hours. We all know everyone is on their phone all day anyway, so waiting any longer only shows you’re actively prolonging the response… or worse, that you’re holding focus groups to field test your text response with your friends. I never understood having conversations exclusively by text, but I get that’s what many people do nowadays. So, another way of thinking about this is to gauge their response time. If you immediately send four rapid-fire texts back to their one weekly text, something is out of whack and no amount of text strategy is going to change things. Attempting to guess how your response time is perceived is, in my opinion, a waste of time. If someone is into you, then a quick turnaround time isn’t going to change that (and if it does, that’s lame, you dodged a bullet). And, if someone isn’t interested in you, the “Oh my god, I’ve just been sooooooooooo busy” response three days later isn’t going to get them interested. People don’t want to seem “too eager” or “too available,” but there’s a big difference between a quick response saying you are free that night to hang and a last-minute dropping of your plans to make a take-out delivery (on your dime) in response to a request to do so via text.  

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Dr. H